Social Media Guidelines 


Winthrop University encourages the use of social media to help deliver our messages effectively to a variety of audiences. To achieve this, each department or university unit should have a plan for maintaining its chosen social media platforms.

All institutional pages must have a full-time person (not temporary positions and/or student workers) designated as the administrator for social media. Departments and units should consider their messages, audiences, and goals when designing social media sites, as well as a strategy for keeping information on these sites up-to-date.


Guidelines for Administering Social Media Sites

    If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the university, clearly recognize your role and goals. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval. Employees posting on behalf of Winthrop Athletics should be especially careful to comply with guidelines set by the NCAA and the Big South Conference.

    If you have created an account and/or taken over the administration of an account, you should be posting consistently. No presence is better than a dead presence.

    Posts on social media sites should protect the university's institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual Winthrop unit's social media site represents the university as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post.

    If questions arise that may fall under this category, refer the matter to your supervisor or to an appropriate university official.

    Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Winthrop University students, employees, or alumni. Employees must follow applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPA as well as appropriate conference and NCAA guidelines. Adhere to all applicable university privacy and confidentiality policies.

    As a Winthrop representative, you should model the university's commitment to respect for the dignity of others and to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Content contributed to a social media site sometimes encourages comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they will reflect on the poster and/or the university and its institutional voice.

    A presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, donors, community members, and peers. Consider this before posting to be sure your message will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups. If you have any questions about whether a subject or particular language is appropriate to post, ask your department head, supervisor, or advisor before you post.

    Many students, faculty, and staff share their work through social media. So that individual users' intellectual property rights are respected and the Winthrop Intellectual Property Policy is followed, obtain and document appropriate consent for posted content, including (but not limited to) words, graphics, photos, video, audio, images, PowerPoint presentations, artwork, and any other included elements.


Site Supervision on Winthrop University's Behalf

Winthrop University employees who supervise official Winthrop social media sites should:

  • Identify a small team to maintain the site so there is no potential single point of failure for being able to manage information in a timely manner. Choose a team of people you trust to monitor your department or unit's social media presences, provide content and responses, and respond to site management issues. The team can check the site periodically during the day, so no one employee needs to be online constantly.
  • Establish standard operating procedures to monitor, post content for, and engage with your visitors. Review with your team what you expect of them in common situations (for instance, maintaining a consistent voice, removing posts, referring posts to other offices, etc.).
  • Use appropriate tools for managing sites. Software is available that will broadcast a post simultaneously to several sites (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), as well as tools that will allow several users to post for the same account through password-protected software.
  • Register your site with the Winthrop Social Media Directory so potential users can find it quickly. Register an official Winthrop site. This information also helps the university disseminate important information to the administrators of sites, as well as ensuring that sites do not become "orphaned" when a site administrator leaves Winthrop.
  • Establish coverage policies for periods when staff is not in the office (for instance sick leave, nights, weekends, holiday breaks) or when team members are not in the office (for instance, on recruiting trips or at professional meetings). Many social media tools can be accessed through personal mobile devices; therefore, a staff member may be able to be "on call" for the site without being physically present on the Winthrop campus, if such coverage is warranted.
  • Assess your social media presence periodically to ensure that it continues to meet your department or unit's goals and objectives and that it serves the needs of your specific audiences. Periodically, you may wish to commission surveys of your audience(s) to see if your social media site is meeting their needs or to use many of the analytic tools provided by social media sites to make sure your effort is paying off.
  • Don't remove content or take a page offline unless there is a specific violation of Winthrop policies or your published rules warranting removal. Organizations who remove content simply because that content is unflattering lose the trust of their audience and risk public backlash. Always explain the rationale for altering or removing content on a site to maintain transparency and retain the trust of your site users.